“But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions;” (Hebrews 10:32)
This seems to be the norm. The standard. The paradigm. We, through believing on and in Jesus, have had our eyes opened to what we were and are ever realizing more and more what we are now. But alongside is a nagging darkness. We may be tempted to become angry and bored and bitter. These are afflictions, plain and simple. Temptations to again take the reins from God and go back to living the way we did prior to meeting Him. This is why Jesus says the Holy Spirit (as “wine”) is poured into “new bottles” (Matthew 9:17). It’s not referring to our body, but our spirit. Our spirit has been made new and into it is poured the fresh Holy Spirit. As an aside, whereas it says “bottles”, it actually means “wineskin”. The sewn-up skin of an animal in which the wine is poured. The longer a wineskin sat, the more dry and brittle would it become. Best to have something new in which to pour the (new) wine. But the afflictions. What about them? Why is it, now that you’ve found God and He’s found you, that you’re encountering this “great fight of afflictions”? Because you’ve been turned on, “illuminated”. You’ve been activated and you have no choice but to stand out for God. This is good. Because, as we’re about to see, this so-called “great fight of afflictions” will be over and you’re going to move on to bigger and better things. Paul (I say it was Paul) says “call to remembrance the former days“. Because this, too, shall pass.
“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)
Paul, here, calls it “light affliction”. Looking back on any struggle you face, it’s remarkable how paltry it was compared to where you are now. Contrast the “fight of affliction” with “light affliction”. In speaking of his cousin John (the Baptist), Jesus says “there is not a greater prophet” than he. “But he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” (Luke 7:28) Wow. That certainly puts things in perspective. The strength you gain through the battles and struggles you face only make it easier to go through more and more things. It’s the way it is. Yes, God does cause a windfall every now and again and brings “times of refreshing” (Acts 3:19). But through those peak seasons are long and dark slogs through valleys and bogs and…fog. Seriously.
“Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed and be still. Selah. Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord. There be many that say, Who will show us any good? Lord lift up the light of Thy countenance upon us. Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased.” (Psalm 4:4-7)
Several times throughout the Old Testament does God say to simply stand still as the answer for the trial. Really, there isn’t much we can do in a spiritual struggle. We are a spirit, living in a body. The things of spiritual warfare are done with reference to God. And He has His (your) angels mop up whatever’s left over. The gift we gain is a greater focus and strength to in turn remain focused on God. So focus on God in whatever way you choose–in love, I might add–and see Him turn your afflictions into a shadow of their former selves.